KJIPUKTUK (Halifax – In my recent story about annual reviews I mentioned how lately there are so many annual reviews happening all at the same time.
Annual reviews have often resulted in cuts to special needs allowances. Now I hear about some recent cases where clients have been experiencing a different kind of cut.
I have personal knowledge of several cases where people got their shelter allowance reduced from $535 to $300 a month. I have also heard of a few other cases in the community where this has happened!
As we all know the shelter allowance is a basic need. When you are on income assistance you receive your shelter allowance to cover your shelter and utility expense.
What is an income assistance recipient supposed to do when when the decision is made to reduce their shelter allowance from $535 to $300?
Well, they are left in the dark because it already difficult to get a place for $535 a month. That $535 is the money you get for shelter when you live with disabilities. Finding a place to rent for $300 a month is not going to happen. We all know this.
$235 less money on an income assistance recipients check is a big loss for the client. It leaves the client even less money to live on.
Many income assistance recipient who will be attending their annual review are worried about what is going to happen. They worry about this because they already lost special needs allowances, or because their caseworker has questioned their doctor’s notes. At times people have been refused income assistance altogether.
Someday they are going to end up living on the street, they say. It’s just a matter of time.
That $300 people are left with for rent is the allowance for income assistance for people who are deemed not to have disabilities. However, we need a system where where these things don’t matter.
I support a guaranteed annual income for reasons I explain here. Under that system annual reviews and cuts to allowances would simply not exist. You just get a set amount and you make your own decisions.
In this story here I suggest that $2500 per month would be about right.
My message of this story is: Community Services, stop cutting people’s allowances!
Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.
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Good work; is there any policy out there where one can read the changes to the policy or is it all kind of case by care and capricious?
It’s not documented as such. Decisions are based on the caseworker’s interpretation of the existing policy manual.